The Governing Board conducted the mandatory public hearing Dec. 14 to take comments on recess for elementary schools.
Dr. Michael Cowan, superintendent, and the board members said they were not planning to change the district's current recess practices.
The issue was raised to comply with the state law passed by the Arizona Legislature. The law requires all Arizona school district to notify parents, hold a public hearing to receive comments and take a vote on whether to change recess practices to include a structured recess.
The Arizona Legislature passed a law that requires each school district to review its practices on elementary school recess by Jan. 1, 2011, to determine if a policy is needed to structure recess time for the students.
Of the 550 comments received, there were 540 respondents who asked the district to keep recess the same.
The cost of structured recess ($600,000 or more) is difficult to manage at a time when the district must cut more than $40 million from the budget.
The board will complete the process with a formal vote in January.
Review of Mesa Public Schools programs
In Mesa Public Schools, recess for elementary (K-6) students is unstructured, free play in which children may choose their own activities. Recess time is in addition to elementary physical education classes.
Mesa elementary schools currently offer a minimum of 60 minutes each week of structured physical activity as well as daily recess. Several schools have instituted a schoolwide Active and Healthy program to focus on the health of students and staff.
A structured lunch recess program for the district's 57 elementary schools will cost an estimated $600,000 to hire additional staff and purchase equipment for the first year. After the first year, the estimated annual cost would be $400,000 for staff.
If the project was extended beyond the lunch recess to morning and afternoon recess time, the cost would rise to about $1 million.